Unhappiness is a normal human emotion. Everyone experiences it at some point in their lives, possibly even for extended periods of time. The word “depression” can be used for these times. However, major depressive disorder is more complicated and much more serious. Scarily, hidden symptoms of depression masquerade as normal unhappiness.

Loss of Interest

Major depression can steal the joy and pleasure from the things a person loves. When the activities that used to be important to someone stop being interesting or fun, there’s a good chance the individual is suffering from major depression. This can even extend to sex life- with decreased drive and even impotence showing up as symptoms.

Uncharacteristic Changes of Emotion

Major depression is a mood disorder that disrupts the way you normally feel about life in general. An optimistic person may find themselves feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, self-hating or undeservingly guilty. There are many thoughts that may be common and reoccurring during major depression. Some of them may come out as “This is all my fault”, or “What’s even the point anymore?”

Irritability and/or Anxiety

Depression doesn’t only show up in stereotypical “sad” feelings. The hopelessness brought on by depression can also come out in anxiety and intense irritability. This is especially true in men, as they are affected differently than women. Research shows that men in particular may cope with depression by lashing out in anger and engaging in risky or escapist behavior.

Excess Fatigue

While it’s completely normal to sleep in after a late night, sufferers of major depression can find themselves overwhelmingly exhausted all the time. Loss of energy and constant lethargy can be some of the most devastating symptoms of depression. It’s hard to battle when a person has no physical energy.

Depression is also sometimes associated with insomnia, since one can lead to the other and vice versa. A lack of quality and restful sleep can also end up in anxiety.

Changes in Appetite and/or Unusual Fluctuations in Weight

This can vary wildly from person to person, but some people with major depression find themselves struggling with regulating their appetite and weight. Some people have an increased appetite and therefore gain weight. Others lose their appetite and therefore lose weight.

The main way of telling if these changes are related to depression is whether they are intentional or not. For instance, if a person eats less because they are overweight and want to get to a healthy weight, this is likely not due to depression. But if a person unconsciously changes their eating habits, it could be a clue that something else and more devastating is going on.

Wildly Uncontrollable Emotions

For a moment, there’s a flash or rage. Then suddenly they’re weeping with abandon. Nothing seemed to happen, but it was though someone is yanking on their internal emotion switch without mercy. Depression could be the cause of this. It can look similar to bipolar disorder, since both depression and bipolar are both mood disorders.

Thoughts of Death

Most terrifyingly, depression is deeply connected to suicide. In 2013, more than 41,000 people died from suicide in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But take heart: Suicides rarely happen without warning. There are symptoms, as long as you’re willing to look for them. Many times, people will talk about it or even have a first attempt before finally succeeding. If you or someone you know is suicidal, get help immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Do These Sound Familiar? Here’s How to Get Help

If you or a loved one suffers from some of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from major depression disorder. But don’t panic- just recognizing the depression and seeking accurate information is the first step to getting the treatment you need.

While depression afflicts millions of people, there are treatments available. From lifestyle changes to medication, there is something out there that can help you. Whatever type of treatment you choose, seeking professional help is the first and most vital step of feeling like you again.

Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for a number of prestigious web sites. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own health conditions and daily circumstances.